There’s a divisive moment near the end of Avengers: Endgame that left some audience members rolling their eyes while others let out triumphant screams. If you haven’t seen the movie, then stop now before you hit a big old spoiler: During the final fight between Thanos’s army and a universe worth of heroes that have recently been unsnapped back into existence, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) has to get the Infinity Gauntlet across the battlefield and away from Thanos. To help her clear a path, a horde of lady supers assemble to fight alongside her like one of those straight-from-the-comics battle-posture scenes come to life.
Some viewers found the “Girl Power!” of it all to be pandering in a cinematic saga that has largely underserved its female characters up to this point, and the writers of Endgame, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, were very aware of that interpretation, but just enjoyed the moment too much to cut it. When asked about the scene by the New York Times, McFeely said, “There was much conversation. Is that delightful or is it pandering? We went around and around on that. Ultimately we went, we like it too much.” Markus added, “Part of the fun of the Avengers movies has always been team-ups. Marvel has been amassing this huge roster of characters. You’ve got crazy aliens. You’ve got that many badass women. You’ve got three or four people in Iron Man suits.”
The screenwriters, who have written five Marvel movies in addition to Endgame — including all three Captain America entries, Thor: The Dark World, and Infinity War — are also aware that Black Widow’s death hit some viewers the wrong way, too. But ultimately, Markus and McFeely say the Original Six member who’s been part of the franchise since Iron Man 2 was the one who deserved the heroic moment of giving her life for the Soul Stone.
On the conclusion of Natasha’s story, McFeely explained, “Her journey, in our minds, had come to an end if she could get the Avengers back.” Though he is also aware of the optics of a bunch of guys weeping over the death of one of the few key women in the MCU when she could have just lived. “The toughest thing for us was we were always worried that people weren’t going to have time to be sad enough,” said McFeely. “The stakes are still out there and they haven’t solved the problem. But we lost a big character — a female character — how do we honor it? We have this male lens and it’s a lot of guys being sad that a woman died.”
They even had a draft where Hawkeye died on Vormir instead, but ultimately opted for the Natasha story line: “Jen Underdahl, our visual effects producer, read an outline or draft where Hawkeye goes over,” said McFeely. “And she goes, ‘Don’t you take this away from her.’ I actually get emotional thinking about it.” To that, Markus added, “And it was true, it was him taking the hit for her. It was melodramatic to have him die and not get his family back. And it is only right and proper that she’s done.”